The New York State Attorney General on Thursday sued former US President Donald Trump for “obstructing” his civil investigation conducted since 2019 into possible fraud in the tax practices of the Trump Organization family group.
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Prosecutor Letitia James, elected from the Democratic Party, has been pursuing the former head of state and Republican businessman for years and has wanted to hear from him for months. On February 17, she managed to get a New York judge to order the billionaire, as well as his children Donald Jr. and Ivanka, to testify under oath.
Subpoenas against which the Trumps have appealed.
But a civil court in New York also demanded accounting and tax documents from the Trump Organization by March 31. What the Trumps have still not done in “violation of the court order” on February 17, the prosecutor’s office protested in a statement.
According to a memorandum filed Thursday with the Supreme Court of New York, Letitia James is therefore attacking Donald Trump to be held responsible for “obstruction for his refusal to comply with a court order”.
“Rather than obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to escape it,” she said in a statement. The Attorney General therefore calls for “immediate intervention by the court, because no one is above the law”. His approach is accompanied by a request for “a fine of 10,000 dollars per day against Mr. Trump” as long as he has not sent the requested documents.
Asked by AFP, the former president’s lawyer, Alina Habba, replied in an email that she was “resolutely ready to oppose the futile and baseless request” of prosecutor James.
The civil investigation against the Trumps accelerated in January when Letitia James announced that she had gathered “significant evidence suggesting” that Mr. Trump and his group had “falsely and fraudulently valued a number of assets” for economic benefits.
The New York attorney general suspects the Trump Organization of having “fraudulently” overstated the value of real estate properties when applying for bank loans and of having understated them with the tax authorities to pay less taxes.
The Trump family accuses Ms James of a ‘political witch hunt’.
This conflict is one of the many disputes that the former president has with the law.
He is also facing a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg: the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg have been charged with tax evasion. They have pleaded not guilty and the trial is due to begin this year.
But this criminal investigation was disrupted at the end of February: two assistant prosecutors for Mr. Bragg resigned and one of them, Mark Pomerantz, accused in his departure letter Donald Trump of being “guilty” of “numerous offenses” , including financial fraud.
According to the press, the assistant prosecutors would have left, because their leader Alvin Bragg, an elected African-American Democrat who arrived in January, would have expressed doubts about the possibility of indicting the former president of the United States. Such a decision would be “contrary to the public interest”, wrote Mr. Pomerantz.
But prosecutor Bragg assured in a statement Thursday that his investigation was continuing and “promised that (his) services would make public the conclusions of (their) investigation whether it is a question of the abandonment of the prosecution or an indictment ” .